Now that the book is officially closed on the 2013 season, it is time to look ahead to 2014. First pitch is less than 200 days away but in the meantime, the Philadelphia Phillies have the much-needed chance to really evaluate the team so that they can improve it. However, there is one thing that worked and one thing that won’t need to be improved.
Aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels were for the most part as advertised, and much of the same is expected in 2014. In fact, to make a bold prediction Lee and Hamels won’t just be great, as they will indeed be the best pitching duo in all of baseball in 2014.
During the second half of this season, the lefty-righty duo of Lee and Hamels truly showed the talent and tenacity they bring to the pitching mound. Since the All-Star break in mid July, Lee and Hamels have posted a combined 2.93 ERA. The Phillies are one of only two teams, the other being the Los Angeles Dodgers, to have two pitchers with a second-half ERA under three. Alone, Lee’s 2.83 season ERA ranked 10th in MLB this year.
On the year, both Hamels and Lee topped the 200 strikeout mark, totaling 424 between the two of them. Only the Detroit Tigers‘ duo of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander recorded more. Alone, Lee’s 222 strikeouts ranked fifth in MLB this year. Hamels was ranked 11th with 202.
Combined, Hamels and Lee walked just 82 batters in 442.2 IP over 1781 batters faced. That is an average of about one walk every 21.7 batters faced. Alone, Lee averaged about 23 batters faced for every one walk. The Dodgers’ duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke averaged 16.5 batters per walk, and Scherzer and Verlander averaged just 13.3.
Overall, Lee and Hamels are going to be a fantastic pairing next year. This could not be better news for the Phillies. If Lee and Hamels are both clicking on all cylinders at the same time next year, there is no telling what the top of the Philadelphia pitching staff can do for the rest of this team.
Plain and simple, Greinke-Kershaw and Scherzer-Verlander are good, but in 2014, no tandem will be better than Lee and Hamels.
Marilee Gallagher is a baseball writer for RantSports.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MGallagher17 like her page on Facebook, or join her network on Google.